A unique cross-cultural event took place in Glasgow on Sunday 26 January 2014. East Dunbartonshire Councillor Manjinder Shergill and Linsay Given Black, who runs The Jaskomal Foundation in Scotland organised a Punjabi/Scots Burns Supper to raise awareness of the critical need for more ethnic minority bone marrow donors and to raise funds for The Jaskomal Foundation and Delete Blood Cancer, one of the leading charities in this field. With some donations still to come in, the total raised for the charities is around £3,100.

The event was hosted by Hardeep Singh Kohli, a great supporter of blood cancer/bone marrow charities and will include both traditional Scottish and Punjabi entertainment – including two members of the North Atlantic Trio (guitar and harp), a piper accompanied by two dhol players to pipe in the haggis. DjHarri Glasgow provided the music and staging. There was also a fashion show featuring the new Pride of India tartan, designed for Glasgow’s forthcoming Commonweath Games, a tartan sari and catwalk tartan and velvet dresses, courtesy of Psychomoda in Edinburgh.

Political figures from across Scotland showed their support. First Minister Alex Salmond signed a copy of the Devolution White Paper auctioned on the night, while three MSPs, Jackie Baillie, Hanzala Malik and Graeme Pearson have donated lunch for two, tickets to First Minister’s Questions and a tour of the Scottish Parliament. Anas Sanwar, MP has also donated a lunch for two in Westminster and tour of the Houses of Parliament.

Dr Amanjit Jhund, Scottish Sikh parliamentary candidate in 2015 delivered the toast to the haggis.

The Lord Provost has also donated a prize, as have Rebus author Ian Rankin and Gruffalo creator Julia Donaldson.

The event followed a bone marrow donor registration drive at Glasgow Gurdwara between 10 am and 2 pm.

Notes for Editors
Every 20 minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer. A bone marrow transplant is often the only way to save the patient’s life. Yet only half of the people diagnosed find a matching donor. If you are of ethnic minority origin, your chance of finding a match is dramatically reduced, particularly if you live in Scotland - only four per cent of the donors on the Bone Marrow Register are of ethnic minority origin, of which one per cent are Asian (compared to six and four per cent respectively on the UK National Register). Bone marrow, like blood, must be matched, so a precise ethnic match is vital for a transplant to be successful.

The Jaskomal Foundation was set up in March 2013 following the death of Jaskomal Sher-gill, a bright and beautiful 23 year old who battled blood cancer for two years. Although her brother Joban was a match for her, and gave her a bone marrow transplant, it came too late. Jaskomal was cancer free but her immune system was so suppressed by the time of the transplant that a chest infection took her life. The Sher-gill family and Jaskomal’s friends discovered the shocking lack of Asian and other ethnic minority donors during her illness and, determined to ‘give hope a chance’ set up the Foundation in her name to raise awareness of the lack of donors, provide support to other families and seek to increase the number of donors on the National Register. By then end of 2013, working with Anthony Nolan and Delete Blood Cancer, they had attributed nearly 3,000 new donors as a result of registration events in the South of England and the Midlands: an increase of around 1500 per cent in registrations.

The Foundation has now expanded into Scotland and holds its first registration and fundraising events in Glasgow in partnership with Delete Blood Cancer to coincide with Burns Night.
Jaskomal’s mother and father will be in Glasgow for the events as will her aunt who has also donated bone marrow - twice.

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